The ubiquitous nature of Listeria has made it a difficult pathogen to detect, control, and find its root cause. Led by Gina Kramer, executive director of Savour Food Safety International, attendees of last week’s Listeria Detection & Control Workshop learned everything from the cost of Listeria ($1.4 million per case and $2.3–$22 billion in the United States annually) to the challenges of breaking down biofilms to the steps a company should be taking to do sanitation right and get rid of resident Listeria in their facility. Here’s a snapshot of what experts said as they addressed industry’s obligation to ensure that their facilities are constantly monitored for contamination to ensure that safe product comes out of their plants.
People equate local and organic with safer, safer, safer. That’s not true, because pathogens are agnostic. – Gina Kramer, executive director, Savour Food Safety International
Whole genome-based outbreak detection allows us to detect more quickly, with greater precision in identifying source — John Besser, Ph.D., Deputy Chief, Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch, CDC
What’s happening in your plants? What are you taking into your processing plant? What time of year is it coming in? What is your environment—is it more urban or rural? The presence of Listeria isn’t any greater in an urban or rural environment. You might find it in different places, but there isn’t a difference in incidence. – Janet Buffer, corporate food safety manager, The Kroger Co.
Biofilm erupts like a volcano. But once it has erupted, your volcano goes dormant. And for how long? Nobody knows. That’s the problem. The biofilm can release two days later, a week, or a month later. – Dominique Blackman, general manager, Realzyme
Listeria testing is the ugly duckling in preventive controls. Companies need to ask themselves whether the method they use is able to detect potential positives in the environment. – Ted Andrews, senior director, product marketing, Roka Bioscience
Sanitation is not one size fits all. You need to have specific controls in place that look at controlling Listeria not just for equipment but periodic infrastructure and equipment and routines. Validate that they work. Train employees so they properly execute. – Jeff Mitchell, vice president of food safety, Chemstar
You’ve identified Listeria in your facility. Now what? Review touch points: This includes the air, surfaces, transportation and packaging areas. – Troy Smith, CEO, Radiant Industrial Solutions, LLC
If you get everything mostly right, what are the odds that you’ll find a pathogen in end product testing? Getting the proper data point is a big deal. – Douglas Marshall, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Eurofins
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